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Transformational, Servant and Authentic Leadership Sou

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Carllena Kirkland

Transformational, Servant and Authentic Leadership SOU


Transformational Leadership

Transformational Leadership Theory Defined

The transformational leadership theory has been extremely advantageous in the development of leadership studies as a whole.  Transformational leadership has been described as one of the most popular and studied theories of leadership.  Since its inception more than thirty years ago, the theory has generated over 1000 empirical studies.  The study is so unique because it revolutionized the study of leadership by shifting focus from transactional concepts to transforming concepts.  The term transformational leadership is defined by Northouse as a process that transforms individuals (Northouse 2013).  

 (Bass & Bass, 2008)

History of Transformational Leadership Theory

        The concept of transformational leadership has be credited to James MacGregor Burns.  Burns first introduced the concept in 1978.  Burns described transformational leadership as the process in which “leaders and followers help each other to advance to a high level of morale and motivation” (Burns, 1978).  Burns was able to construct the ideals for this revolutionary theory because he recognized the difficulty in differentiating between management and leadership.  The assumption for transformational leadership is that people who appear to have a higher moral position will inspire others to follow.    Burns introduced a new approach to leadership in which, he introduced two concepts in his writing and titled the concepts transforming leadership and transactional leadership. He described a transactional leader as an exchange between leaders and followers. This is a give and take relationship so to speak.  He goes on to described a transforming leader as someone who works with their followers to maximize their full potential.  Burns refers to three types of leadership as described below:

Transactional-exchanges between leader and follower

Transformational-engaging with others to create a connection to that inspires one to follow

Pseudo transformational-the leader focuses on his own interest rather than those of the followers. (Northouse, 2013)

Burns’ claim is that the differentiation in the three is between characteristic and behaviors.  For this reason, many suggest that all though transformational leadership consist of much more, it is to some degree grounded in charismatic leadership.  The charismatic leadership theory was developed by House in 1976.   This theory suggested that the unique ways of charismatic leaders effect their followers’ behavior. (House, 1976) Burns describes the transforming approach as on that significantly changes the follower’s life.  It is extremely different from transactional leadership in that transactional leaders work and may even perform well in an existing culture while transformational leaders try to change the culture.  (Burns 1978)

        While Burns introduced the concept of transformational leadership, the conceptual framework is accredited to Bernard Bass (1985).  Bass (1985) extended and elaborated on the work of Burns (1978) and House (1976).  Bass however used the term transformational leader as opposed to Burns’ original transforming leader.  Bass’ research measured how influential the leader is.  That is to say, how trusting and admirable the leader appeared to his followers which cause the followers to work harder than they expected to do. (Bass, 1985, p. 20.  

How Transformational Leadership Works

Bass’ (1985) framework of transformational leadership is broken into a continuum of three leadership types: ranging from the least effective laissez-faire, to transactional to the most effective transformational.  Bass describes laissez-fair as a hands off approach, transactional as being contingent upon reward or management by exception and transformational as being able to motivate the follower through his charisma and intellect.  Burns then breaks each type of leadership into factors.  Transformational leadership has for factors which include: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, and intellectual stimulation.  The components are defined below.

Idealized influence-This is the leader’s ability to be a positive role model or gain respect and trust.  The leader gets in involved in accomplishing the goal or leads by example.  

Inspirational motivation- The leaders articulates a vision that is inspiring enough for others to take action.  This is the degree to which the leader aligns his goal or the organizational goal to the goals of the individual.

Individualized consideration-the ability to connect with the follower and act as a mentor or coach

Intellectual stimulation- the leader’s ability to innovate, and challenge the followers to think differently (Bass, 1990)

The transformation occurs in two ways.  Transforming the group during time of change-transformation of the collective.  Transforming followers into leader so that when that leader moves on, the followers can step into that role.  Several studies have emerged from Burn (1978), House (1976) and Bass (1985) works.  Hickman (1997) states that “transformational leadership creates and sustain a context for building human capacity by identifying and developing core values and unifying purpose” (Hickman, 1997, p. 2)  Transformational leaders are able to effectively develop a vision, gain a commitment for it that results in  a shared purpose, and motivate others to follow.  

Applications of Transformational Leadership

        The transformational leadership theory has opened up much discussion amongst leadership researchers.  The research suggests that because this theory can be taught to individuals at any level, organizations can be positively affected by its presence.  These studies have linked transformational leadership to several organizational outcomes including employee satisfaction, organizational commitment, organizational culture and increased productivity.  

Several studies have concluded that there is a positive correlation between transformational leadership and organizational effectiveness. Barling, Weber, and Kelloway (1996) conducted a study to determine how applying transformational leadership to the training of managers effected organizational commitment.  The study concluded that transformational leadership improved the overall effectiveness of training managers.  The followers who reported to managers who received training in transformational leadership were more committed to the organization they worked form.  From their perspective, these mangers appeared to be more charismatic and higher on intellectual stimulation.  (Barling, Weber, & Kelloway 1996) In addition to this study, Bryman (1992) discover a positive correlation between the leader’s charisma and job satisfaction.  Other research related to transformational leadership suggest that this theory is also positively related to job performance.  Walumba, Avolio and Zhu (2008) studied the effects of transformational leadership on job performance.  They tracked the manager rated job performance of 437 participants over time.  They determined that job performance was related to how employees identify with their work group.  Walumba, Avolio, and Zhu (2008) concluded that upon further research, it could be determined whether transactional leadership has an effect on all industries.  (Walumba, Avolio & Zhu, 2008) One of the biggest effects transformational leadership has on organizational effectiveness is the effects on culture.  Transformational leaders have the ability to influence individuals in such a way that aligns personal goals to those of the organization.  Mink (1992) states that transformational leaders help followers see things differently.  Those within the organization can see the differences transformational leaders bring to an organizations culture.  (Givens, 2008)  Bass, Avolio and Goodheim (1987) studied the effects transformational leadership had on military culture.  The study suggested that the organizations culture can determine how effective the organization could ultimately be.  (Bass, Avolio & Goodheim, 1987)  The transformational leadership theory has been positively related to several organizational outcomes.  Givens (2008) suggests that the influence of transformational leadership on organizational outcomes can be a predictor of employee behavior.  The same research also supports Bass, Avolio and Goodheim (1987) in suggesting that transformational leaders lead organizations with stronger cultures and that this form of leadership is also positively relates to the follower’s perception of the leader.



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